Do I need an underlayment with my flooring installation?

There is no simple yes or no answer to this question because many factors, including material and subfloor conditions, will often decide if an underlayment is needed. Sometimes one may not even be required, but you’ll install it anyway because it will provide additional enhancements, such as comfort or protection against moisture, especially when the subfloor is concrete.

When you walk into a flooring store, you’ll be overwhelmed by the vast selection of various products, but keep in mind that correct installation is vital to appearance, performance, and longevity.  If you still have questions after reading this, feel free to come into our showroom if you are shopping for flooring installations in Everett, WA.

What is an underlayment?

Underlayment is a thin layer of material that lies between the subfloor and the surface to provide stability, more resilience, and eliminate noise and act as a moisture barrier. It can also smooth surfaces, hide subfloor imperfections, and improve a flooring's ability to hold fast in an installation. Underlayments come in various thicknesses and materials from plywood and OSB to cement boards and to felt, foam and rubber.

What floorings need an underlayment?

It would be best to have detailed conversations with our flooring installation professionals to determine the best one for you. Laminate floors always require one because they’re installed with the floating floor technique where the pieces click together to mat, then hover over the subfloor with no nails or glue. This requires that the weight is spread evenly, which only a foundation, i.e., underlayment, can do. Laminate is also composed of wood byproducts, so it shrinks and expands to adjust to the weather, requiring a vapor barrier. This is also the case when engineered hardwood floors are installed as floating floors.

Also, you may want a moisture barrier with solid hardwood or tile.  With tile, some subfloor types expand and contract so, without one, the material won’t adhere properly. Both solid and engineered wood can experience water seeping from the subfloor to the surface. Vinyl acts as its underlayment, so it’s unnecessary to install one, even when installed as a floating floor.

For more information about your flooring installation and a free quote, come into the Completely Floored showroom in Everett, WA.  We work with homeowners in Everett, Marysville, Lake Stevens, Monroe, Arlington, and Mt. Vernon.